Sunday, June 08, 2008

And the Heat is On

90+ Degrees, And That's in the Shade

Took a lesson yesterday, and it was horribly hot.

On the plus side, besides the temperature, Tucker was really good. Gabriel kept insisting he is looking better and better both physically and in his training.

The trot work was great with Tuck willing to step more and more under himself with a quicker stride behind which is the basis for collection. And, he is carrying himself in a more elevated frame. What pleased me as well is that because of the heat, we took a number of walk breaks, and each time Tucker gave me minimal problems going back up into the frame to work again.

Then we moved on to canter as I wanted to try the flying changes. We did a number of canter walk canter transitions and a stretch of counter canter on each lead. Gabriel agrees that counter canter will help strengthen Tuck's prolematic right lead as will a lot of transitions.

Then we tried the changes. Gabriel had me do a 10 meter half circle reverse back to the wall, change the bend and make an obvious "swing" with my legs to the new lead canter aid. Tucker kind scuffled the change behind and then kind of scuffled for the change in front, and that was on the "bad" side. On the good side we got something akin to a change but definitely not what I'd had at home, but that's OK. Then we tried the bad side again. This time, Tucker leapt into the air with his hind end and, according to Gabriel, I checked him in front istead of pushing him on, and lost the offer he'd given me. Ah, well, when you feel as if you are going to be bucked out of the saddle, I guess checking is sort of a typical reaction. *G*

I decided that was enough mostly because the heat was unbearable and both Tuck and I were wilting.

Proof postitive when we went back to try a little lateral work at the trot and Tuck was out of gas on the second rein. He quit at the shoulder-in/haunches in combo and did it at a walk. Then, we did get the diagonal to the half-pass at the trot, so I figured that was enough. Besides, if muscle fatigue was setting in because of the heat, Tucker was being smart. The last thing I need is for him to collapse on his stifle again.

One of my friends who takes lessons too was watching and was totally blown away at how much Tucker has changed too. She hasn't seen him in several months.

I guess it's for real. I really do know how to develop a dressage horse. *S*


  1. That sounds really positive. I'm interested that Gabriel mixs counter canter and flying change in one lesson. I thought the conventional wisdom was not to mix the two? Does Gabriel have a particular reason to do it with Tucker, or is that her normal way? Since I'm trying to teach Jazz flying changes I need all the advice I can get :-)


  2. The horse absolutely needs to master both. And the flying change needs to be a reponse to an aid rather than just a response to needing to balance in the new direction. I have always been told the horse must have a solid counter canter before tackling the changes.

    Tucker does, by the way, so he's well able to counter canter around the arena and even on a serpentine (One of the movements in one of our national dressage tests.)

    Counter canter also helps balance the canter itself and strengthen the lead, as is the case for what Tuck needs.

    Once the horse learns the flying change well--like Toby--keeping him on the counter lead can be challenging, unless you know exactly how to do it. The counter canter becomes a very specific exercise with specifc aids.

  3. I can see that a horse needs both counter canter and flying change, but I was interested that Gabriel has no problem with doing both in one lesson, where the trainers I know would say don't do them both on the same day because it risks confusing the horse about what he should do.

    There seem to be two schools of thought about which to teach first. One lot say that if you teach counter canter first, you risk the horse not changing because it's happy in counter. Tetley would never change for me because he was so darned good at counter canter. The second school think it should be established before trying changes. I'm working on both at once with Jazz, but not on the same day.